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November 15, 2018

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Disgraceful’: Trump blasted by both parties after Putin meeting

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Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva via AP

U.S. President Donald Trump, left and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during their meeting in the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Monday, July 16, 2018. Earlier in the day, Trump blamed the United States, and not Russian election meddling or its annexation of Crimea, for a low-point in U.S.-Russia relations.

Updated Monday, July 16, 2018 | 3:21 p.m.

After declining to endorse U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election — saying he didn’t "see any reason why" Russia would be responsible for interfering — President Donald Trump drew condemnation this morning from Republicans and Democrats.

Here is a sampling of comments that followed Trump’s remarks during his joint appearance with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. The Sun collected the comments through news sources, Twitter, official statements and televised interviews, and offers them as they appeared.

• House Speaker Paul Ryan

"There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world. That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence. The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy."

• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

"I've said a number of times and I say it again, the Russians are not our friends and I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community."

• Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah

"Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Our nation’s top intelligence agencies all agree on that point. From the President on down, we must do everything in our power to protect our democracy by securing future elections from foreign influence and interference, regardless of what Vladimir Putin or any other Russian operative says. I trust the good work of our intelligence and law enforcement personnel who have sworn to protect the United States of America from enemies foreign and domestic."

• Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.

"This is bizarre and flat-out wrong. The United States is not to blame. ... When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs."

• Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

"Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections. This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves."

• Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

"Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate."

• Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.

"The President's summit in Helsinki today should have been an attempt at confronting Russian aggression, hacking, and election interference. Russia is not a friend or ally. As Americans, we stand up for our interests and values abroad; but I fear today was a step backwards."

• Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine

"It's certainly not helpful for the President to express doubt about the conclusions of his own team. He has assembled a first-rate intelligence team handled by Dan Coats and I would hope that he would take their analysis over the predictable denials of President Putin."

• Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.

"As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am deeply troubled by President Trump's defense of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the U.S. & his suggestion of moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia. Russia poses a grave threat to our national security."

• Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.

"The American people deserve the truth, & to disregard the legitimacy of our intelligence officials is a disservice to the men & women who serve this country. It’s time to wake up & face reality. Putin is not our friend; he’s an enemy to our freedom."

• House Oversight Committee

"Russia is not our friend. Russia attempted to undermine the fundamentals of our democracy, impugn the reliability of the 2016 election, and sow the seeds of discord among Americans."

• Republican Party strategist Mike Murphy

"Just saw the most depressing, disgusting, toadying, weak, moronic, lie-stuffed, and damn near traitorous public hour in the long history of the American Presidency. A dark day."

• Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

"Foreign policy must be based on reality, not hyperbole or wishful thinking. And the reality is #Russia is an adversary. Because #Putin doesn’t believe in win/win scenarios & thinks only way to make Russia stronger is to make U.S. weaker. Any approach not based on this will fail."

• Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

"I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful."

• Former CIA director John Brennan, who served in the Obama administration

"Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???"

• Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

"This entire trip has just been one giant middle finger from President Trump to his own country. Just jaw dropping."

• Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

"For the President to side with Putin over his own intelligence officials and blame the United States for Russia’s attack on our democracy is a complete disgrace."

• Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

"For the president of the United States to side with President Putin against American law enforcement, American defense officials, and American intelligence agencies is thoughtless, dangerous, and weak."

• House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

"President Trump's weakness in front of Putin was embarrassing, and proves that the Russians have something on the president, personally, financially or politically. This is a sad day for America, and for all Western democracies that Putin continues to target."

• James Clapper, former director of national intelligence in the Obama administration

"On the world's stage, in front of the entire globe, the President of the United States essentially capitulated and seems intimidated by Vladimir Putin. So it was amazing and very, very disturbing."

• Chuck Hagel, former defense secretary in the Obama administration and former senator, who described the Trump-Putin meeting as a “sad day for America” and a “sad day for the world.”

"This was not a golf outing. This was not a real estate transactional kind of arrangement. ... Engagement must be connected to a strategic interest, a strategic purpose. I don't know what that strategic purpose was. I am now convinced we didn't have one."

• Abby Huntsman, a Fox News reporter and daughter of Jon Huntsman, U.S. ambassador to Russia

“No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus."